A framed photo of an older couple rests on a worn Bible. The background shows a large display of white flowers.

Remembering My Gramps with Alzheimer's

Gramps was an amazing man. Strong and full of wisdom. My childhood is full to the brim of memories spent with Grams and Gramps. My grandparents would show up at our house, where we would spend hours together just thankful to be together. Then each summer, I got to spend a week or two at their house basking in their love and attention. These special times will forever be etched in my memory.

When you went to Grams and Gramps’ house, you were about to have the time of your life. Your belly would be full of everything homemade and delicious. You’d get to sneak off with them to the movies or get a special toy. Meals were always spent around the table, just the three of us together eating everything Grams’ had prepared. You never doubted that you were special and loved when you were in their company.

Describing my gramps

Gramps’ presence was that of a strong and gentle man. His character was one that was built on solid ground. He was a peaceful man. His love for the Lord radiated to everyone he had in his life. He lived in a way that was commendable. There wasn’t a need near him that went unnoticed or unmet. He barely had an extra penny for himself, but if his neighbor needed it, he would give it to them. Gramps was a man who would never be caught not helping or just sitting around watching others doing what he could. He relished in his family time, but even more so, he loved spending quiet time reading his Bible.

Gramps ultimate Alzheimer's diagnosis

Slowly, the man we all came to know and love was about to be lost. His Alzheimer’s disease was the ultimate enemy. After Gramp’s knee replacement surgery, a nurse asked Grams, “How long has your husband had Alzheimer’s disease?” To which she replied, “He doesn’t have Alzheimer’s disease!” That’s how we discovered his fate.

Gramps lived about ten more years after his second knee replacement and initially, after the second surgery, he struggled a lot with remembering short-term events and moments. We just thought it was the result of him having the surgery done so late in life. He was older this time around and we thought his body was having a difficult time recovering.

Looking back, we know that that was the Alzheimer’s disease. Those next ten or so years were challenging, as Gramps’ health steadily got worse. His physical body was amazingly healthy and he would often brag about his new bionic knees. Physically, he felt like a million bucks and no longer had the pain he had suffered with for so long. He could actually climb stairs instead of crawling backwards down or crawling up. However, his mind had other plans. He struggled with normal, everyday short-term things and then it just continued to get worse.

Grams was an amazing woman and wife to my Gramps. She proceeded to care for him and seek more and more medical treatment for him. She was always willing to sign him up for clinical trials, and I just adored her hope that whatever the newest and latest treatment he was on would be the one thing that would actually slow down the disease progression. She remained so hopeful.

There came a point in Gramps’ journey, where Grams could no longer safely care for our precious Gramps. It was no longer a good idea. My mom, along with her siblings, had to make the heart-rendering decision to find a long-term care facility to place him in. Silly Gramps found himself into plenty of mischief and was placed in several other facilities. The end got tough and extremely challenging. Gramps contracted pneumonia and his body was shutting down in the hospital. My mom and her siblings had to quickly decide to place Gramps in hospice care. My mom rode along with Gramps in that ambulance transfer ride. She had the heartbreaking task to tell Gramps “He was going home!”

Gramps never wanted to live in a nursing home and he made them promise that he could die in his home. However, since that just was not a feasible and safe option for him, they decided to use a hospice home. It was one of the most peaceful places to spend your days. Gramps barely lasted a day there when he finally went to be “Home.” Gramps lived to 91 years old. Till the absolute end, he made me smile and laugh. He was my role model. He lived in a way that I can only hope to strive to live my own life. The legacy he left me was incredible.

I hope you get the chance to have your own “Gramps” in your life. A person who makes you strive to be a better person to all those who you come into contact with. A person who lives with integrity, honesty, and grace. This disease robbed me of time with Gramps, but I was blessed to have him as long as I did. No time is ever long enough, but the memories will hold him forever in my heart

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